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Campaign Misogyny Doesn’t Stop for Political Conventions

Robin Marty

No wonder women still tend to shy away from politics.

We are entering the height of campaign season, and it’s typical that at this point in the cycle mud begins to fly. Sadly, when it comes to women candidates and political figures, that mudslinging tends to be sexist, too.

Congressman Joe Walsh already has an uphill battle trying to win re-election in a newly drawn, more liberal Illinois district. But his attacks on competitor Tammy Duckworth, already noted as petty and dismissive, are now misogynistic, too.

Laura Bassett writes:

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) this week mocked Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee, for speaking at the Democratic National Convention, charging that the only issue Duckworth cares about is her outfit.

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“Ms. Duckworth has continued to show more interest in rubbing elbows with big name party insiders, then [SIC] staying home and tackling the tough issues facing voters in the district,” he said in a statement on his website. “It has become abundantly clear that at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech.”

The “concerned about her looks/frivolous/self-absorbed” accusations are the most common used against female political figures, and activst Sandra Fluke bore the brunt of them on twitter after she finished her speech at the Democratic National Convention.  Think Progress rounded up some of the worst of the worst.

@AnnCoulterSandra wants taxpayers to pay for her tanning appointments.

@DLoesch Don’t lecture conservative women about empowerment while demanding that we pay for what goes on in your bedroom

@michellemalkin Shorter @SandraFluke speech: Me me me me me me. Free free free free B(irth) C(ontrol). Eeeeevil GOP.

But sexism doesn’t just come from rival campaigns or partisan pundits, it can come from reporters, too. Name It, Change It points to a recent Chicago Sun Times article where reporters ask a potential female candidate for governor if she really believes she can handle holding office and properly caring for two young children at the same time.

[Attorney General Lisa] Madigan and her husband, Pat Byrnes, have two young children, ages 7 and 4. She was asked whether she could serve as governor and still raise her kids the way she wants to.

“Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” she said. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my family. My husband helps take care of our kids. But, I think more people should ask that of men running for office as well.”

Pressed further on whether she could simultaneously hold both jobs — governor and mom — she said, “I can be the attorney general and do that. There are plenty of women who juggle.”

Reminded that being governor is a lot more demanding than attorney general, she said, “All of these jobs are very demanding. And people who, unfortunately, have to work three jobs and don’t necessarily have health-care coverage — they’re even in a worse situation. So nobody needs to give any pity on what elected officials have to endure.”

Despite the alleged desire to win over female voters, it appears that this cycle isn’t going to be much different from any other when it comes to attacks on women.

Topics and Tags:

campaign 2012, Sexism

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